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10 Real-Life Murderers Who Were Influenced By Dexter Morgan

by Sharon Greene
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Showtime’s Dexter featured arguably one of the most interesting, dark, and complex characters ever created for TV and was wildly popular with its fans. So, who was this Dexter Morgan character? He was first an orphan, then an adopted son and brother. He was employed as a forensic technician who specialized in bloodstain pattern analysis (aka blood spatter analysis) for the Miami Metro Police Department. He later even became a husband and a father. The story sounds pretty normal so far, right?

Did I mention that behind that quiet, calm, conservative facade lived a psychopathic serial killer who lived by a code and only killed heinous criminals who escaped justice through the proper channels? He was no stranger to leather aprons, knives, and plastic-wrapped kill rooms, where he killed and dismembered his victims, who were later discarded at sea.

The vast majority of viewers took this series for what it was: a fictional show with fictional characters intended for entertainment purposes only. Unfortunately, a small number of people started to identify a little too much with the lead character and chose to submerge themselves into that fictional world. The following is a list of people who blurred the lines between fact and fiction. They are real-life Dexter Morgans.

Featured image credit: Showtime

10 Mark Twitchell

Photo credit: Edmondton Journal

“Anyone can turn out to be a psycho without being overtly obvious about it.”

Mark Twitchell was probably one of the most well-known of these killers, and his story reads like a well-written Hollywood horror movie. He was a well-liked, aspiring filmmaker who seemed to have a very promising future. Instead of choosing the path that would lead him to that future, he chose one that led to death, darkness, and destruction. One intended victim was fortunate to escape his fate. The second was not so lucky.

Twitchell was a devoted fan of Dexter and would talk about it often. He posted as him on Facebook and made an eight-minute film called House of Cards, which was a Dexter spoof. He also wrote a story entitled “SK Confessions,” which began with the following statement: “This story is based on true events. The names and events were altered slightly to protect the guilty. This is the story of my progression into becoming a serial killer.”

The following is a chilling quote from Twitchell’s diary:

My kill room was perfectly prepped. Plastic sheeting taped together and around my table; a large green cloth screwed into the drywall ceiling to shield view of it from my guest’s line of sight, and to shield me too of course. I now stood but a few feet away from the front door which I had locked of course. The plan was to wait in the shadow of my curtain until he approached the door and shock him with the stun baton followed by a sleeper hold that would sap away his consciousness so that I could tape him up and set him on my table.[1]

Police believed that the motive was to experience killing another person so that he could make a more authentic serial killer movie.

9 Steven Miles

Photo credit: Surrey Police

“Ed” told him to do it. Ed was apparently the nagging voice in Steven Miles’s head that told him to kill. This time, unfortunately, he listened. At the age of 16, Miles, who was obsessed with Dexter Morgan, stabbed his 17-year-old girlfriend to death in his bedroom in 2014. He then used tools from his father’s tree-cutting business to dismember the body before wrapping the limbs in trash bags. He later confessed to his sister that, “Ed made me do something bad.”

Two years prior, Miles had been under the care of mental health professionals for inflicting self-harm. He was released about a year later, when he seemed to be making good progress. Obviously, that was not the case.

A former girlfriend of Miles told police that he once confided in her that he was going to kill someone. She also stated that he had tried to strangle her at one point.[2]

8 Miranda Barbour

Photo credit: Mark Makela/Reuters

“Who knows what’s real, since I’m crazy”

She fantasized about killing Sarah Palin’s daughter Willow while in middle school just for being stuck up but decided that wasn’t the best thing to do. She punched Willow in the face instead.

Miranda says that she joined a Satanic cult at the age of 12 and that she committed her first murder at 13. All told, she claims to have murdered between 22 and 45 people who “deserved it.” Like Dexter, she believes that the justice system doesn’t work, so she did what she did. By the way, her sister claims that she is obsessed with the show.

In the case that sent her to prison, Miranda placed an ad on Craigslist in 2013, offering herself for companionship. After meeting a man, she proceeded to stab him 20 times and then went to a strip club with her husband to celebrate.

In 2014, she tried to kill herself in prison using a busted light bulb. She wanted to die because she believes in reincarnation and wanted a fresh start.[3]

7 Mark Howe

Photo credit: Raymonds

He wanted to smoke pot, but his mom said no. So he stabbed her 53 times in the face, mouth, throat, and chest.[4]

Mark consistently isolated himself in his room to play violent video games and became obsessed with TV serial killer Dexter morgan. He began researching the kind of knives that Dexter used, checked out a “kill bag” online, and studied what type of knives should go in it. He became so obsessed with knives that he would stab things in his room to take out his rage toward his mother.

After the 2013 murder, Mark didn’t quite know what to do with himself. He told an online friend that he killed someone and then sent a photo of his bloody shoes when the friend didn’t believe him. He visited two CARE homes where he was employed and ultimately admitted to a colleague, and his sister, that he had killed his mother.

He claims he doesn’t remember doing it.

6 Andrew Conley

Photo credit: AP/David Kohl

Andrew had fantasized about killing people since the eighth grade and told his girlfriend he wanted to be just like Dexter.

In 2010, he admitted to holding his ten-year-old brother in a choke hold while they were wrestling and then dragging him in to the kitchen once he passed out. Andrew then proceeded to strangle his brother for 20 minutes and wrap his head in two plastic bags. If that wasn’t enough, he repeatedly banged his brother’s head on the ground before loading him in the trunk of his car.

After doing so, he drove to his girlfriend’s house and gave her a promise ring, his brother’s corpse still in the trunk.[5] He later disposed of the body in a park.

5 Manuel Pardo

Photo credit: Miami Herald

If anyone could be described as a real-life Dexter Morgan, it would be Manuel Pardo. There are many similarities between the two.

Dexter was employed as a blood spatter forensic analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department in Florida. Manuel was actually on the Florida Highway Patrol at one point and was later a police officer in Miami-Dade County, before he was eventually fired.

After his firing, he began a 92-day rampage of robberies and murder in 1986. When it was over, he had killed six men and three women, most of whom were involved in drugs. He had the same attitude as Dexter in thinking that he was doing the world a favor by getting rid of them. Instead of collecting blood slides as souvenirs like Dexter did, Manuel took photos of his victims and wrote details of the murders in his diary.

During his trial, he was quoted as saying to the jurors: “I am a soldier, I accomplished my mission and I humbly ask you to give me the glory of ending my life, and not send me to spend the rest of my days in state prison.”[6] His wish was granted, and he was eventually executed.

4 Jessica Lopez

Photo credit: KNSD

Jessica Lopez was immersed in a sadomasochistic lifestyle that included bondage and discipline with a male, whom she called Master, and another willing female. All three would eventually be charged with murder. Ropes, whips, a Taser, a nightstick, and spiked gloves were all discovered in their sex dungeon.

Jessica unsuccessfully attempted suicide at one point and left a full confession as well as the location of the victim’s body in her suicide note. She stated that the trio kidnapped, tortured, and sexually assaulted a woman before murdering her.

Lopez was quoted as saying, “I made a few attempts to chop her up like Dexter with Master’s power tools, but I was afraid it was too loud and it sucked at cutting flesh.”[7]

3 Maartens Van Der Merwe And Chane Van Heerden

This engaged couple never missed an episode of Dexter and were reportedly drawn to crime novels and the macabre.

When they decided to move onto larger prey after practicing on cats, they found a victim through Facebook. Chane lured him to a cemetery with the promise of a date. He was brutally attacked and murdered by the couple when he showed up. Maartens and Chane beheaded him and removed his right arm and both legs. They buried his torso in a shallow grave.

When police searched the couple’s home, they found the victim’s head in the refrigerator, along with his eyes and ears. Most macabre of all, they found the facial skin, which had been removed so carefully that it could have been confused as a mask. A poem written by Chane was very telling: “I will tear off their faces to see the truth . . . ”[8]

2 Brian Campbell

Photo credit: KZTV

Brian was tired of paying so much child support, so in 2017, he decided to kill his ex-girlfriend and their two kids to remedy the problem.

When he arrived at her home, he pushed his way inside and pinned down the man who answered the door. The man assured Brian that they were not there and that he was just there to house-sit and take care of the dogs. After searching the home and finding that his ex and kids really weren’t there, Brian left to go look for them. The house sitter immediately called 911.

Brian was later spotted by police and was pulled over in a traffic stop. Once he was questioned about some suspicious items in his vehicle, Brian confessed to the officer that he had come there to commit murder and that he had been inspired to do so by the TV show Dexter.[9]

1 Havard Nyflot And Shamrez Khan

Shamrez Khan stalked Faiza Ashraf for years, to the point that she felt threatened by him. When she refused to marry him, he decided that he’d had enough and concluded that she must be kidnapped and tortured for refusing him.

He enlisted the help of an acquaintance who had gambling debts, Havard Nyflot, to carry out his plans. In 2010, Nyflot abducted Faiza and threw her in the trunk of his vehicle. Unknown to him, she still possessed her cell phone and was able to call police to report that she had been taken. She was able to give them the name of Shamrez Khan as the person she believed was behind the kidnapping. Unfortunately, the police were unable to locate her in time.

Havard claimed that after abusing steroids and watching Dexter, he became inspired and decided that Shamrez Khan should die instead. He also determined that Faiza should be there to watch it happen. For some reason, he wrapped her head in tape and placed her back in the trunk of his vehicle. When he later opened it, he found that she had suffocated. He and Shamrez both claimed that her death was accidental.[10]

fact checked by Jamie Frater